Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Social Media: Boon or Bane

We are presently living in an age where a portion of our lives have become a part of the various social networking sites available on the vast world wide web. With the increasing penetration of these networking sites, a new term has also entered our vocabulary – Social Media. Yes, we are living in the age of the Social Media. According to Wikipedia, “Social Media includes web and mobile-based technologies which are used to turn communication into interactive dialogue among organizations, communities, and individuals.” News now travels faster than ever before. Breaking news appears first in the Social Media than in traditional mediums like TV and newspapers.  The most famous Social Media platforms now are Facebook and Twitter. The reach of the Social Media has also been increasing manifold over the years. And, interestingly, Social Media has now overtaken pornography as the No. 1 activity on the web!!

Many a breaking news, like the attack on Bin Laden’s house in Abottabad and the death of Michael Jackson, were reported first in Twitter. Almost all the news providers are now present in the online Social Media platforms, providing us news even before they air or print it. The Social Media has also played a great role in organizing revolutions in a few nations. The power of the Social Media allowed people to overthrow dictatorial governments from countries like Tunisia and Egypt. Thus, advent of the Social Media has been a boon for many.

But, boon also carries with it a bane. The same is also applicable in the case of the Social Media. Social Media has been spreading some falsified and fabricated news and information also. This has led to many a conflicts and untoward incidents. It has led to spread of hatred and mistrust among people. Recently, we have witnessed the unhappy incidents of clashes in our state which has led to deaths and displacements of people. As the situation was returning to normal and violence was subsiding, suddenly came some outbursts in the Social Media leading to mass exodus and fear among certain sections of people living in other states of India. Doctored images and videos spread in the Social Media, leading to rumours and also mistrust among the people. Dead bodies of people who died during earthquake in Tibet were shown up as people killed in clashes in Assam; picture of a Tibetan youth self-immolating himself for the Tibetan cause was shown to be a person burnt alive by people in Assam. Such incidents show how the Social Media can be used to create and spread false information.

With more and more people having a presence in the social networking sites, the reach of the Social Media has now become immense. It has now the capability of influencing public opinion in a large way. As such, Social Media has a big responsibility on it to be sensible and factual. With no proper watchdogs on Social Media, it is the imperative of the people using the Social Media to decide what is right or wrong. It is the responsibility of the people to not blindly believe all the information coming up on the Social Media and should always verify it with other sources. Social Media is here to stay and we are the people responsible to see that it is a boon for us and that it doesn’t turn into a bane.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Burning Hearts, Burning Souls

The recent bout of violence in Assam has left about 77 persons dead and nearly 4 lakh people displaced. These incidents of clashes between two communities have again brought a recurring question to the forefront: Do the various communities and ethnic groups in Assam still do not trust each other? Are the people so weak that a little instigation from “external forces” leads them to slaughter people from other communities? Yes, it is true that illegal migration from our neighbouring country is changing our demography and putting pressure on the land resources of our region. But is killing people a solution to that problem? No, it can never be a problem. Violence can lead only to more violence and there will always be some forces to take advantage of this violence.

Sadly, in the violence-hit areas, proper steps are yet to be taken for resolution of the conflict. The people living in the relief camps are yet apprehensive about returning to their homes. Fear still lingers in the minds of the people. The need of the hour for the administration is to arrange meetings between representatives from the clashing communities and bridge the trust deficit between the two communities. Till now no steps have been taken in this regard and in the meantime, violence is spreading to new areas.

We have an accord signed 27 years ago which promised to deport illegal migrants from our country. But sadly the accord is yet to be fully implemented. Successive governments has only played politics with the issue and never showed any real will to implement the clauses of the accord. If the accord was implemented, today’s problem would not have arisen at all.

At present, the immediate response of the government should be to arrange meetings between representatives of both the clashing communities. The administration should see that rumours do not spread in the violence-hit areas. Such rumours make the situation far worse. People should also verify the facts before being taken in by the rumours. The process of implementing the clauses of the Assam Accord needs to be expedited and periodic review of the same should be done. The Foreigner’s Tribunal in the state is facing shortage of judges and also a lot of cases are pending in front of it. This issue needs to be addressed quickly.  Also many detected foreigners have not been deported because of the Bangladesh government not taking them back. Diplomatic talks at high level have to be taken by the Indian and Bangladesh government in order to resolve this issue.  

Assam had been witnessing a relative period of calm after the ceasefire of many major insurgent groups of the state. But with these fresh incidents of violence, the peace has again broken down. We hope that such incidents stop soon and good sense prevail among the people. After all this is our state, our country and we want it to be peaceful and developed.